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HL BaSE: the programme

HL BaSE is our Business and Social Enterprise hub.  At the heart of HL BaSE is an MBA style training programme.  All of our junior lawyers, wherever located around our network, will benefit from attending the programme. Through HL BaSE you will:

  • become a better lawyer - you will have a deeper understanding of your clients and what drives their business decisions;
  • become more entrepreneurial and therefore a more successful work winner; and
  • have a greater understanding of the importance of social impact, both to Hogan Lovells and to our clients.

To give you a better understanding of what HL BaSE offers and why we think the programme is of critical importance to your development, we have put together these FAQs.

If you have any questions about these FAQs or any other HL BaSE related matter, please contact Nicola Evans (London), Tobias Faber (Continental Europe), Andy Ferris (Asia and the Middle East) or Oscar Stephens (The Americas).

Q.1.  Why HL BaSE?

Quite simply because business is social enterprise. A deep understanding of business and social enterprise will help you succeed as lawyers in a competitive market. Hogan Lovells' success depends on you.  All business is social; a business that makes nothing but money is a poor business. The great thinkers and entrepreneurs agree on this. Working with our clients we can make a tangible difference and prosper.

Hogan Lovells creates value for its stakeholders. They include:

  • clients (who generally also exist to create shared value for their own stakeholders);
  • our employees; and
  • our communities.

And through its creation of value, Hogan Lovells makes and generates a sustainable business.

Together we can do great business and shine bright. To enable you to do this, we are giving you sharper skills in key areas (see below).

Q.2. What will I learn on HL BaSE?

HL BaSE aims to hone your skills as a lawyer and build competitive advantage.  Hogan Lovells already has an established market leading brand.  We want to build on that brand by:

Giving you mini-MBA type skills

HL BaSE will help you understand how a business is built. Market analysis, strategy, pricing, financing (debt and equity) through to investor exit routes. These skills are top of the list of what our clients want of their lawyers, whether litigation, commercial or regulatory focused.

Giving you social impact and business integrity skills 

Over the last 20 years as technology and its associated new operating models have transformed business another upheaval/disruption has taken place; business has become more social – you probably understand that from social media better than we do!

Alongside price point, the biggest driver of consumer behaviour is now customer experience tied to positive social impact and business integrity (in all its forms).

"In the near future, literally every company will compete on the basis of customer experience. In fact, they already do – most just don't realize what that really means, what's at stake, or how to do it well."

Rise of the CXO, Harley Manning and Kerry Bodine

Major corporates are responding to this change in consumer behaviour; they are adopting and incorporating positive social impact into their branding. And for most new businesses (think small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)), social impact and business integrity are key drivers from day 1; they want to grow rich, sure, but do it the right way.

Listen to Bechtel explaining how this is core business and nothing to do with a CSR "add on" Watch how this translates to brand strength for Samsung

If you're interested in learning more read the attached articles which will help you understand the rise of social enterprise/shared value.

And Hogan Lovells has its own strong vision in this space – see Question 4 below.

Enabling you to develop entrepreneurial spirit

Hogan Lovells is one firm wide team. But look at it another way: at Hogan Lovells, each lawyer is running their own business but our teamwork and collaboration makes Hogan Lovells far greater than the sum of its parts.  If you want profitable, fulfilling careers, you need to understand how to build your own book of business on a profitable basis.

And through its client workshops, HL BaSE will help you develop entrepreneurial skills by providing you with an opportunity to engage with SMEs directly – around half of HL BaSE is committed to doing just this. These workshops are your opportunity to put to the test all that you learn on HL BaSE through advising clients on their business plans. But don't worry, you will do this in a mutually supportive team and in a mentored environment so it will be an amazing experience. And, following your participation on HL BaSE, you will continue to advise the clients you meet over your early years (relying on other specialist support from the firm) just as you advise other clients.

We’ve chosen to work with SMEs at the workshops because:

  • Global corporate and economic value generation is shifting to the SME sector and the time it takes these clients to mature to big business is radically shortening (see attached Economist article).  It is, therefore, increasingly critical for us to understand what makes these companies tick, how to relate to them and the particular advice and advisory style they respond best to. It is these SMEs who will become the success stories of the future, think WhatsApp, UBER… so you need to understand them.

  • Generally SMEs have much stronger social impact skills than many big businesses who are rapidly trying to strengthen in this area, often through M&A and JV with social enterprises – think Coke buying Innocent Smoothie, L'Oreal buying Bodyshop etc.

  • SMEs offer a more welcoming learning environment in which you can apply your ground up business planning, commercial and financial skills.

  • You also commonly get access to C-suite (CEO, CFO etc) level. In contrast and let's be honest guys, as young lawyers, the head of Apple is unlikely to ask you to help him redesign his entire company and business plan at the first meeting! But your SME may well do so…

Q.3. How do I apply this to my day job? I get the commercial and financial bit but we are lawyers… and what's the social impact bit got to do with it?

 Let's get this straight. HL BaSE is all about your day job.  If you think offering legal advice in a vacuum is where it's at, you're wrong.  Clients expect legal excellence and probably attribute around 20% of value to this.  They take it as read that you can advise on the law.  But what clients really want is legal advice that enhances the bottom line and is presented in a way that goes to the heart of their business - that’s the 80% value proposition – and it goes way beyond understanding your client's industry and market.

So giving you a grounding in business, financial and social is about helping you achieve the 80% value proposition. If you want to develop a relationship with a client, new or existing, you should ask and consider:

  • Who the client is and not just what it does. So when you are talking to IFC/World Bank's power division their aim is to generate a GDP hike and improve social equality in emerging markets; it is not actually about generating power (although this is the way they will generate that GDP hike). Understanding this will drive how we sell ourselves to the client, our advice and our value proposition.  It will also drive transaction structuring, risk mitigation and how we resolve disputes.
  • What are the client's commercial objectives and what do those objectives mean in terms of their financial issues and their relationships with their customers and society? Increasingly, clients are selling their integrity and customer experience as much as a product or service.
  • Making these judgements and understanding these issues in a rounded way shows a deep understanding of the financial, the social and the brand impact and will distinguish the legal technician from the "trusted advisor".

Guidelines and examples:

Here are some guidelines and examples to help you:

  1. Ask open questions: "What are the biggest financial drivers behind this contract/disposal?  What are the other critical concerns for the business; does this dispute/transaction involve the client's business integrity or social impact concerns or issues for the brand?  What is the balance between financial drivers and brand integrity/public perception on this dispute and settling it?"

  2. Frame your advice on the biggest points in terms of the financial, business and social drivers as you have analysed/understood them. For example:

  • "As we understand it the key objective [of this acquisition] is [achieving double digit growth] in your [customer sales] and that your customers are focused on "customer experience" and product integrity.  So the key issues in your due diligence will be the contracts underpinning that growth, regulatory risks to the new markets and due diligence on the business integrity of the target, such as supply chain, financial crime compliance etc."
  • "It is clear your key objectives on this dispute are early settlement, speed and avoiding adverse publicity and that these objectives are far more important than the quantum of the settlement."
  1. It doesn’t matter whether you are a corporate, finance, regulatory or disputes lawyer. When you are advising a client, you need to understand the business, the financial and the ultimate customer/social purpose and connect these to your legal advice.If you can't connect the legal issues in this way, they are either not critical to the client (or will not be perceived as such) or you may not have understood the overall objectives (financial, brand and social) of the business and the transaction/dispute within which your legal advice sits. Your legal issues may still be important but they may well be secondary legal detail.  Treat them as such:

  • on the regulatory side, depending on the business context/the client drivers, the compliance risks may be seen as big or small, helpful (if they squeeze out competitors) or unhelpful;
  • when litigating this may mean a crushing victory in a class action causes more damage than an early and generous settlement – doing the right thing for the brand to compensate for previous mistakes; and
  • often much of the big ticket litigation essentially concerns financial and revenue issues or "bet the farm" type social impact issues; for example where a massive negative social impact flowing from environmental pollution, damage to health or lack of integrity triggers class actions or regulatory threat and, as importantly, damages a brand or makes a company untouchable.

Q.4. Hogan Lovells' broader vision

Hogan Lovells has its own clear philosophy. Over the last 10-20 years we have helped to build a better market and more sustainable global capitalism. And one way we have helped achieve this is through our market leading social enterprise practice. 

Through our work in our social enterprise practice, we believe:

  • we can create systemic change so we work with National Governments', World Economic Forum and others to create new business models and fiscal incentives for better, more sustainable and socially impactful business;
  • in social equality.  Wherever possible we believe social equality is better delivered by enterprise and innovation and we support and understand initiatives in this area (like the UK Social Value Act) and partner with agencies worldwide that support this market trend;
  • in the contribution of every participant from charity, to Social Enterprise, to major corporate in contributing to the social value chain
  • in thought leadership and encouraging the market to follow us; and
  • when we advise on a pro bono, discounted or contingent basis, we are investing not giving. We make our investment decisions based on:
    • a blend of: super equity profit and massive social return;
    • economic returns, which in turn enable us to profit and generate more investment and, therefore, social return; and
    • the social returns.